May 13, 2019 / 9:29 PM / a month ago

U.S. exempts water filters, camera parts from China tariffs

WASHINGTON, May 13 (Reuters) - The Trump administration on Monday announced that it will exempt a broad range of additional Chinese-made products from 25 percent U.S. tariffs, including industrial equipment, water filtering equipment, small electric motors, remote control devices and stereoscopic microscopes.

The exclusions, disclosed in a notice published by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, apply to an initial list of $34 billion worth of products that were hit with 25 percent tariffs in July 2018.

USTR on Friday implemented a tariff increase to 25 percent from 10 percent on a separate list of $200 billion worth of Chinese products as the two countries escalate their trade war. There is no process in place for exclusions from that list, which includes internet modems and routers, printed circuit boards, furniture and lighting products, but USTR has said it plans to implement one.

The exclusions announced on Monday also include parts used in refrigerators, machines used to mix beverages in single servings at restaurants as well as covers and other housings for cameras in motor vehicles.

USTR in December granted nearly 1,000 product exclusion requests out of about 11,000 submitted but it is still weighing thousands more.

Some companies have raised concerns that by raising the cost of components imported from China, it makes U.S.-assembled products more expensive than those assembled in other countries.

Other products exempted include some air purification equipment, equipment used in hydraulic solenoid control valves, push button switches and LED light therapy devices for using in treating pain or ailments of the skin.

Companies must address “whether the particular product is available only from China and specifically whether the particular product and/or a comparable product is available from sources in the United States and/or third countries,” USTR said. “Whether the imposition of additional duties on the particular product would cause severe economic harm to the requestor or other U.S. interests,” it added in a filing.

The other issue companies must address is whether the “product is strategically important or related to ‘Made in China 2025’ or other Chinese industrial programs.”

USTR has received exclusion requests for nearly 13,000 products and has denied 5,311, including Tesla Inc’s bid for relief for the Chinese-made Autopilot “brain” control module for its Model 3 and other electric vehicles.

The Tesla request and 1,165 others were rejected because the products were deemed “strategically important” to China’s “Made in 2025” industrial development program, which the Trump administration claims is unfairly subsidized and contributes to the theft of U.S. intellectual property. (Reporting by David Shepardson and David Lawder; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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